438. Forming a Relationship with Your Goals

Feb 5, 2024 | 0 comments

Welcome to another insightful episode of The ONE Thing Podcast. Today, we’re delving into a critical aspect of goal setting and achievement – maintaining momentum beyond the initial enthusiasm.

Research from The ONE Thing reveals a startling fact: just 17 days after embarking on New Year’s resolutions, many of us falter. This episode isn’t just about setting goals, which we’ve extensively covered in previous podcasts and our courses. It’s about the next crucial step: persisting in doing the right things, even when it becomes challenging, and keeping the habit alive well past those first 17 days of the New Year.

Join us as we explore the concept of forming a relationship with your goals. Nikki, our host, emphasizes the importance of this relationship, especially considering the energy we’ve already invested in setting these goals. As we transition from planning to execution, it’s natural to encounter the need for adjustments. Today’s discussion focuses on how you can effectively apply The ONE Thing principles to sustain and nurture this goal-relationship in your life.

If you’re seeking to not only set ambitious goals but also to steadfastly achieve them, this episode is a must-listen. Let’s dive into the journey of turning your aspirations into sustained actions and lasting success.

To learn more, and for the complete show notes, visit: the1thing.com/pods.

We talk about:

  • Forming a deeper connection with goals to ensure lasting success
  • Having a rhythm of accountability for regular check-ins with goals
  • Making small, continuous changes for sustainable and incremental goal progress
  • The Four Thieves of Productivity in goal-setting
  • Understanding the impact of health and environment on achieving goals

Links & Tools from This Episode:

Produced by NOVA Media


Nikki Miller:

Hello, everyone. And welcome back to The ONE Thing Podcast. I'm Nikki Miller.

Chris Dixon:

And I'm Chris Dixon.

Nikki Miller:

And today is a very special day, Chris, because we are filming this. I know not everybody is going to be listening to this, but we are filming this on January 17th, which marks a very significant day because statistically speaking, this is the day that most people have fallen off their New Year's resolution.

Based off the research from The ONE Thing, they found that just 17 days after someone started their New Year's resolution, they will have already fallen off. So we thought today would be the perfect day to talk not just about setting goals. We've had a number of podcasts and as an organization, we have a number of courses about how to set goals and how to appropriately line up your dominoes. And yet, we also want to walk people through how to achieve those goals, how to do the right things, even when the right things get hard, how to maintain the habit after just 17 days into the new year. So today we're talking about forming a relationship with your goals.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah. Nikki, you said it. Everyone's probably invested a lot of energy and setting goals at this point, and now we're starting to transition to putting it to work and actually doing the things. And I'd imagine even by now, just 17 days, and people are already seeing things that they need to change or update on the plan that they came out of the gate with, right? You're already needing to make adjustments.

So what a great time to talk about how you can put the one thing into action in your life to sustain, as you said, this relationship that you want to build with your goals. How can you become accountable to it? How can you stay in connection with it? How can you communicate with your goals? If you have shared goals amongst a group of people, a team, a partner, a spouse, how do you form this like collective relationship and connectivity between the goals and the plan and the other people involved?

And I think it's a really important point because so many people, like you said, will go 17 days max or on average and then you're already starting to see a gap between where you thought you would be and where maybe you want to be and where you are. And so now is such a critical time to have some tools and thoughts to keep on track.

Nikki Miller:

Well, I think the biggest challenge that we see, Chris, and what we do not only in coaching people, but also in what we do with organizations as a whole is that most of them have some type of structure, some better than others. Most of them have some type of structure to set goals, set the business plan, set the goal. And yet, it's so rare that they have any type of structure for how to stay accountable to that goal. How are they going to check in halfway through the year, midway through the year, past the 17 days through the year? And that's when most people get off track. It's not that they don't know where they're going, it's that they don't know how to remain accountable to the steps in order to get there.

Chris Dixon:

So true. I mean, imagine you built a plan for achieving this amazing, incredible goal that you set for yourself for 2024, you created this plan in a best-case scenario. It's 99 percent true. You still need a system to stay in communication with that to continuously check your plan to adjust your behavior to stay on track. The reality is that your plan is not going to go according to plan. It's just not going to happen. So even more of a reason why you have to catch those small learnings and how you have to make changes and adjustments and both at the top end and the bottom end on what your plan is to stay on track over time.

So I think it's really important to recognize that you're going to need to make changes no matter what, and how do you stay in this connection and this connectivity to your goal.

Nikki Miller:

So if anyone has been listening and following, they've already taken -- I was just about to say our course, really could be a mini course. So they've likely already listened to our podcast on setting and achieving goals, which gives them the framework of how to set goals inside the one thing, what our framework is, for how we appropriately set goals and then build plans in order to get there.

So it's foremost, we're going to start with casting that vision into the future. And we make a decision based off what we call the 3P approach. So our purpose defines our priority, which defines our productivity. And based off our purpose, we cast the vision for the future of where we want to be. And then we work backwards into what we should be doing today. And then we have a rhythm of accountability through the 411 and the GPS. And that's really how we work backwards from where we need to be, where we want to be in the future to what we need to be doing today.

But back to your point, based off of what we need to do today, that could change next month or next quarter, or that could change based off priorities, that could change based off what's happening in the market. So today is really focused on not just the framework for how to set goals, but how to hold ourselves accountable and how and when to make adjustments and pivot along the way.

Chris Dixon:

You said it. If you haven't done the work to really dig deep and set meaningful, purposeful goals, then we suggest you do that, and get clear there first, because that's really important. But as Nikki mentioned, we want to dig a little deeper into today how you form this relationship with your goals. And part of that, and one of the biggest components of it is we call this rhythm of accountability. How can you get into a rhythm of checking and adjusting and this, what I like to call the rigor and routine of the meetings that you set with yourself to stay connected to your goal over time?

And I think for me, this is probably the most important, if not the very close to the most important piece of framework that you need to have in place. Like how regularly are you looking at your goals? Like, where are they? Like, how regularly are you checking your plan?

And these are the time blocks that you set for yourself or with your team at regular intervals to check in, to stay in communication, because what we find so often, even in very large organizations, very successful organizations, is the tendency is to go as much as even like a quarter without really looking at the plan and scrutinizing the plan. It might just be somewhere that I'm sure we've all experienced this, that you know it's there, you kind of reference it maybe.

But for the most part, you're in the weeds dealing with the stuff that happens every day and then you get to the end of Q1, and you pick your head up and you're like, oh, wow, okay, we're off track, and we've got some major ground to make up. So the purpose of having this regular rhythm of accountability is you never go more than a week, even maybe a day sometimes, depending on your scenario, it could be appropriate without having that kind of reflection and making small changes.

Nikki Miller:

And I think the most important perspective that anyone listening to this will get, Chris, is that everyone is a little bit different in how often they need to check in. I would say the maximum I would suggest to anyone is once a week. I know for me, I like to check in every single day because that helps me to make smaller adjustments because even a week, especially when you live a really big life and when you have a lot of moving pieces inside your world, inside your business, a week where you're off track can very quickly spiral you off track for two weeks or three weeks. And to me, sometimes that becomes a big monster and feels like a lot of extra work I have to do.

So for me personally, I'm an every single day checker. I know you tend to be more on a weekly accountability cycle, right? And yet, everyone listening to this is going to find a little bit of a rhythm in between, not to say that you're not looking at it every day, every single day. I know you are. And yet, every single person listening to this is going to want to check and adjust at different rhythms. So you have to find the one best for you. But I would say never any more than a week. Would you agree, Chris?

Chris Dixon:

Yeah. Yeah. I think that's right. And also I think the context matters too. Like, are you setting some goals that are between you and your partner, your spouse, that's something that you guys are working towards together. Maybe it's an investment strategy. And maybe it really just makes sense to sit down at the end of the week on a Friday evening and go to dinner and like pull up your 411 and go through your -- find your process, find your thing. And I think you say this all the time, Nikki, but it's like the one that you're going to use is the one that you should use, right? Like whatever works for you and that you're going to be consistent with, I think that's what you want to do.

Nikki Miller:

And whatever rhythm of accountability that works for you. Like I said, everyone is a little bit different. So our goal is to give you suggestions on what could work for you. Your goal is to identify which one will work for you, which one you are willing to commit to consistently. Because yes, it's really about which one are you actually going to use.

People come to us all the time and they say, well, what's the best calendar? Is it a paper calendar? Is it a Google calendar? Is it a Microsoft calendar? Is it my iPhone? Which is the best? And we often will say, it's just whichever one you use. So whether your 411 is a digital form or a physical form or it's in an app, however, you are doing it, the rhythm that you choose is the most important choice that you will make is, is it something that you can actually consistently stick to?

And by the way, there's no need to make this an enormous time constraint within your week and within your life. I think sometimes people think checking in on my goals and having a relationship with my goals is this esoteric, like I have to go sit on a mountaintop, drink a cup of coffee and meditate for a while. And it's just not that. This can be as fast as five minutes a day, which is usually about what it is for me. Or it could be maybe a little bit of a longer stretch if you're checking in on them weekly where you spend 15 minutes, 20 minutes to really assess where you are in relationship.

And by the way, to your point earlier, there could be any rhythm in between. If it's bigger goals, you may not need to check on them weekly. And if it's more focused goals around a fast moving work environment, yes, you might need daily check ins. So yes, the context totally matters. But above all, choose how, when, and where, and with whom you are going to do this.

Chris Dixon:

There's something to be acknowledged about ritual, I think, that if that helps you and maybe it's like an example I gave before you and your partner spouse like have a kind of ritual that you come together and that makes this more sticky then that's something you want to do. But to what I think you were saying, Nikki, it's really important too, is don't create big barriers that you have to like climb over to make this happen where you have to make it difficult to do. Make it the resistance as low as possible but if there are ways that you can ritualize it that would make it sticky, I think that's really, really good too.

And so this rhythm of accountability, this series of meetings that you're having and in certain intervals, albeit your routine on a daily or weekly, and weekly kind of connects to monthly. Then that's what you want to insert what we're going to talk about next into, which I think is so important, which is reflection and planning. Like how you are taking advantage of that time intentionally to kind of flush out learnings and then adjust the things that you're doing. And that's really where you leverage this framework you've put in place, which is the actual meetings and the consistency to kind of draw out the value of that time.

And to do that, we know the importance of writing our goals down, but it's also about breaking them down. So you should have clarity on what it is. If we're referencing the year, you want to accomplish by the end of 2024. That's your destination. That's where you want to get to by the end of the year on path to a bigger vision, but you want to break that down and what we recommend is at least go from the year to the month to the week and think and simplify this.

Like, think of your goals like a string of dominoes. If you've got my goal for the end of the year is X, then based on that, what's the one thing -- pull that domino back. What's the one thing I want to accomplish in February to feel like I'm on track to achieving my goal for the year. Based on that, what's the one thing I want to accomplish this week and pull that back.

And so you have your goals, not only written down, but broken down. And you're able to answer the question of how would I know I'm successful? Because if you're specific about that, all of what I just mentioned is enabling you to have powerful reflection. Because if you have that goal and those milestones, when we get to the next part, we're going to share with you, you're set up for success.

Because if you don't have that, you're going to have a very wide range of things you're trying to think through. And then everything's going to start to feel like it matters equally. And we know that it doesn't, that you're really trying to separate out the things that matter most, the 20 percent that will deliver 80 percent of your results. You're trying to separate that from everything else, isolate it in this format so that you can keep that moving forward. So really important that you have your goals broken down so that you can do this kind of reflection.

Nikki Miller:

Such a great point, Chris. And I always go back to what Gary and Jay say in The ONE Thing, which is that a life worth living is measured in many ways. And that's really all this comes back to is that we're making measurements along the way to the big goal that you have, the big life that you want to live. And the importance of this and the reason it's so useful, specifically when we're talking about the rhythm of accountability is that when you can work backwards and use the focusing question, which again is all this is, if you listen to Setting and Achieving Goals, you'll hear us continuously talk about the focusing question as a way to just inform whether or not we're on track.

Based off what I wanted to achieve this year, is what I've achieved this month on track in the direction of that goal? Is what I want to achieve this week on track? Is what I want to achieve today on track with what I want to achieve in that bigger goal, whether it's this month, this week or this year? And so breaking this down to smaller bite size goals or smaller bite size actionable items also allows us to make smaller pivots and to get clear on what needs to change if things don't go according to plan, which they won't. We know that we set a plan. And the reason that it's so valuable for you to have the framework to be able to do this and what we encourage people is that it's not just taking the time to set your goals every year. It's also acquiring the skill set to adjust and reset your goals when it's necessary.

Because I don't think I've ever coached someone, Chris, or I've ever been coached where it completely went according to plan. Everything I thought was going to happen happened. My year was perfectly lined up and I had to make no adjustments ever. It just doesn't go that way. So when you're able to use the focusing question to focus it back to what should I be doing today, it also allows you to move things around and then get back on track.

We talk about in The ONE Thing when, as it pertains to the calendar, if you erase, you must replace. I.E., if you take something off of the calendar, if it matters, you have to put it back on, you have to replace it. And it's the same thing by focusing on what these tasks should be. If you erase one and have clarity on what's going to contribute to the overall goal, you're able to replace it later instead of saying, well, I'm not, I got off track and now I'm not sure what to do.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah. Absolutely. You made me think of something that I think is important to recognize too when you're setting goals and you're doing this process and you're trying to bring it to life. You've probably, in many cases, personally and professionally, in setting goals, setting goals in an area that's new or unfamiliar, and so you're venturing into a new space. And so you should recognize that you're going to learn things about not only your plan, but your goal itself, and that's okay, and that's going to evolve. And so you want to capture those learnings in short intervals, so that you keep the connectivity.

Because I'm sure you can all relate. I know I've had this experience myself of setting a goal. And then as I learned more about what that was, the goal just didn't make sense for me anymore. And it actually didn't reflect what I wanted to do. And so if I wasn't intentional about updating the goal to reflect what I wanted, it was easy to fall off track. You almost became less motivated by it, or you got distracted or just kind of fell off. And so I think that's an important thing to acknowledge that you're going to be venturing into a new space and you don't know what you don't know.

Nikki Miller:

Well, I think what's really cool about this too, Chris, is that we often talk about what happens when things don't go according to plan. And yet we probably don't talk enough about the other side of that, which also happens so consistently, which is when things go according to plan, I.E., the dominoes are lined up well enough that you achieve everything way faster than you thought you would. And we see that a lot too.

And then a lot of people are listening to this saying like, oh, well, cry me a river, you achieved it faster than you thought you would. And yet I'll come back to that, and I'll say that can be a challenge too, because then you hit the goal and you're not really sure where to go from there. You just didn't really plan for what would happen when you hit that goal. And we see that all the time.

I know we see people that we're coaching or organizations that we work with when you really do this process well and work backwards to the now and everyone actually follows it, you will often get to where you wanted to go faster. And then you're going to have to readjust when you get there too. Most people don't land there and say, all right, I'm going to put the football down and be done. They want to keep going after that too, which you also have to be able to readjust when you get to that point.

Chris Dixon:

That's a great point. I coached someone who recently just did an Ironman. And it was this huge, incredible endeavor for them. And, Nikki, you can relate, you've been there. And it consumed like the majority of their personal life and impacted things professionally for them for a year, nearly to train for it. And after they finished the Ironman, they had this huge void of time and went a little bit longer than they wanted to, maybe a month or so before they really intentionally filled that time and stuff started creeping in and they recognized it quickly and we helped them recognize it. But I think that's a great example of if you don't think ahead and you're not planning when you hit your goal, like, what are you going to do next? Like what's there next?

Nikki Miller:

It’s also we're getting clarity on the someday and the five-year goal when we talk about goal setting to the now, it's also we're getting clarity on that bigger vision is super helpful too, because it's rare you will achieve your five-year goal this year. Sometimes you do. We see that happen. And yet, it's not uncommon that someone will do this process well, and things go according to plan and in their favor, and they maybe achieve their one-year goal in the first quarter of the first six months. And so you have to have a vision beyond that to know where you want to go. And again, also have the skill set to readjust.

Chris Dixon:

Absolutely. So we said that you want to have a rhythm of accountability in place. This is the framework. This is the kind of architecture of your schedule. When are you doing these things? And in that space, we're saying, have powerful reflection and planning process in place that you can do that will keep you connected. And maybe we could share a little bit, if you're up for it, Nikki, on some best practice on how we approach the reflection piece, then some of the planning.

And I know you mentioned the focusing question, but I love this because the focusing question, even in short, like, what's the one thing I can do, right? There's the abbreviated version of that, but just asking the what's the one thing that I can do is so powerful. And I like doing this in reflection. Let's say you're looking back over the last week, and you're looking at your goals and looking at one goal in particular.

What you can just simply ask is like, was I successful? Did I accomplish what I aim to accomplish? If the answer is yes, awesome, congratulations. There's still something to learn there. What worked? What's the one thing that set me up for success? What's the one thing I want to do again? What behavior should I repeat to continue this success? A lot to learn there. On the other side, maybe you aren't successful, maybe you didn't do it. So what's the one thing you can do differently in the upcoming week to be successful? So a lot there just in narrowing your focus on reflecting whether or not you were successful in a singular goal in a week.

Nikki Miller:

We're going to talk later about getting to the highest levels of accountability. And yet here, what's so important is this, when you get clarity on what needs to happen in relation to that bigger goal, it also helps to keep you from hiding and helps to keep you from lying to yourself. And I say often, a lot of us will lie to ourselves. We have a bigger problem when we start to believe it, right? How many of us have said, well, I'll start tomorrow, or I will start fresh when, or I did my best today, but when we look back, we didn't actually achieve anything.

So when we clearly outline what needs to happen, it really creates clarity on our actions. And our actions are what put our true intention on display. And we say in The ONE Thing that checking our action against our intention is called accountability. And so when you really get clarity on what your actions need to be, what needs to be accomplished, what do you need to do? Then we can say, okay, well, based off what you're actually doing, then we're clear on your intention to get to this place. Versus when we don't have a document where we can come back to this or a way to track it, it's just really easy to create a story that we're doing more than we actually are.

Or vice versa, where we see a lot of people beat themselves up, Chris, especially high achievers is that they create a story that they're not doing enough. When really, they just haven't given themselves enough time. So this just helps you to create clarity on what is achievable in the timeline that you've outlined it. And also whether or not you're doing what you need to do in relation to that bigger goal.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah. In relation to the bigger goal, I think it's a great point. And something to consider here. When you're reflecting and you're trying to connect, I would recommend, or we would recommend connecting to the next kind of tier. So here's what I mean. When you're thinking about the week and you're reflecting on the week, reference the month.

So for example, here was my goal for the week. Did I accomplish it? Now, reference the month. Now, what's the one thing I need to do to stay ahead or catch up to be on track for my goal for the month? So reference the week against the month. So looking ahead from this week into next week, you're saying, what's the one thing I need to do next week to be on track for my goal for the month. Now, that's connecting the week to the month.

Now, when you get to the end of the month, because you've done this work, you've got a goal for the month, and it connects to the year. Now you're referencing the month against the year. And I'll explain what I mean. So now you're sitting there at the end of, let's say you're listening to this at the end of January. Did you accomplish your goal for the month? You did. Congratulations. Amazing. Now, look ahead to February. What's the one thing you have to accomplish in February to be on track for guess what, your goal for the year. And that's how you connect here. So you're connecting the week against the reference for the month, the month against the reference for the year when it's time to roll those over.

Nikki Miller:

And I think Chris, sometimes people get into this rhythm of accountability. And to that point, they feel like what they're able to do on a day-to-day basis, just feel so small. And it's not until you do connect it to based off this month or based off this quarter or based off this year that you really see how the small actions add up, how extraordinary results require you to go small, how your dominoes are lining up. And I tell people often little by little is better than nothing at all. Achieving your goal little by little is better than not holding yourself accountable to doing the right things that will lead you to ever achieving it at all.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah, consistency over intensity. And I think that should be, if you're -- imagine, right, if you're achieving those small things every day, every week for six months versus trying to do big leaps that you miss or fall off of, like the net sum of the benefit, there will always outweigh these like long shots that you rarely hit.

Nikki Miller:

For sure. So let's talk about when we can't talk about going small and being in alignment with getting to the bigger goal without talking about habits. Because most of what we need to do in order to continue this productivity over time is build a habitual relationship with our accountability. So not just in how we hold ourselves accountable or how we have someone hold us accountable, but also the actions we can do that create the habits that get us to where we want to go.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah, absolutely. It becomes about the who. Like who are you growing into. And we're in the middle of a 66-day challenge, and we've been talking about this a lot right now around our organization. Hopefully most of you guys are following along with us there. But the habits are really about stacking behaviors over time to develop you into the kind of person that would achieve the big goals that you've set for yourself. So how can you be intentional about forming behavior in small chunks over time, in bite sized chunks, that over time you're building this person that is you into the ideal person you want to be. And it's zooming small into like, what are those little behaviors that you want to build? And do they connect to your goals?

So know what your goals are, be clear about those. Think about the kinds of characteristics of a person that would earn the right to achieve those goals as we like to say it. And then work your way back to what's something that you could start to do that again, just like we were mentioning before, it's about consistent behavior. It's not a big intense behavioral shift that's going to be really hard for you to do. It's more about the small thing consistently.

Nikki Miller:

And in the theme of going small, you just said it, it's about doing the small thing consistently. We often encourage people to pick the smallest habit they could possibly pick. Because part of the reason I think back to our earlier conversation, that most people only make it through 17 days of a New Year's resolution or a new habit that they're trying to build, is because they just try to do too much at once. Or they try to take their life, shake it out, flip it back up, and rebuild it anew. And we just know that that never works.

Short of a life altering event where you are having what I call the clean slate protocol, short of that, which is so rare, and we usually want to avoid. Most people do not behave well or stay consistent when they have huge behavioral changes. And so the best thing we can do for ourselves and for our consistency and in ultimate service to the goal is pick something that's really small, but is going to pack a big punch.

And so an example of that might be, I'm not going to force myself to do an hour of prayer and meditation if I've never done it ever. And instead, I'm going to do a minute a day. Or it might be we get health goals a lot, especially as it relates to a 66-day challenge or habit building, and we'll see people who have sort of been out on the couch, so to speak, say I'm going to go from couch to walking 10,000 steps a day. And we'll say that would be incredible if you can do that. And yet that is an enormous life altering change. And so what if instead of going from couch to 10,000 steps a day, you just went from couch to a hundred steps a day? It's better than what you were doing before.

And really what you're building is not only the habit of the hundred steps a day. But what I also try to teach people and what I implore upon those who are building habits is that you’re also building the habit that you are the type of person that does what they say they're going to do when they say they're going to do it. We're always making a vote for the habits that we're building. And I think often when people build something that, or excuse me, when people build or try for something that's too big, they just build the habit that I say I'm going to do something, and then I don't. And that's a habit much like anything else.

Chris Dixon:

Yep. Jordan Fried, who's a very successful coach in and around our world, and he's got some real great nuggets that he'll drop at times. He said one the other day that I really appreciate. And he's like, with habits, it's like you want to avoid extreme behavior and gimmicks. And I think there's something to be said about that because again, consistency over intensity, extreme behavior.

If you're trying to be consistent, which you've never been with this thing and also, raise the bar tremendously on the kind of behavior, just setting yourself up for failure. And then there's gimmicks. Like look out for gimmicks, things that are short term fixes. And I think you can avoid that by connecting your habits to your bigger goals. And it will feel less like a gimmick if it's something that's truly connected. But also like gamifying habits too sometimes feels like a gimmick to me. Just don't overcomplicate something that's intended to be simple and that's important.

Nikki Miller:

For sure. And I think above all, if you could build one habit, if you could just choose one in relation to your goals, it would be the habit of having a relationship with them of building accountability, wherein you're checking on them regularly, whether that's daily, whether that's weekly. Like I said before, I wouldn't recommend anything more than weekly so that you have less adjustments to be made over time. But above all, it's going to be better than what most people do, which is they set their goals and then stuff them in a drawer and don't look at them until they set their goals for the next year. And so if you could build just one habit this year, why not let it be the habit of checking in on your goals and on your progress daily?

Chris Dixon:

I'll tell you what, that habit has had the greatest impact on me personally, more than anything else that I can think of in my adult life. Like getting into the rhythm of accountability, the kind of routine of how I do my daily morning routine and my weekly reflection and planning my monthly reflection and planning, that has been just transformative and like I don't want to force someone to pick a habit or over recommend, but boy, does that one make a big difference in anybody that gets stood up.

Nikki Miller:

For sure. And Chris, as we think about this, and as we coach people, we really often reference the four, we call them thieves in the book, the four thieves of productivity, the four thieves that usually are the things that cause people to get off track. And I think it would be helpful for us to go through those. Because as you're building the sort of mode around yourself in order to hit these goals, there are a couple of things that more often than not are going to get in the way. Obviously not sticking to the habit is the biggest one. And yet, there are going to be potentially outside sources or intrinsic sources that get in the way or that you allow to get in the way to.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah, the four thieves. I mean, if you do all those other things right, but you don't recognize and acknowledge that these are there, then you may be setting yourself up for failure here too. And the first one is the inability to say no. I'm sure we can all relate to this one. And our challenge at times to be able to say no to certain things and the sacrifice of that is we end up also saying no to our goals at the expense of not being able to say no to things that compete for our attention. And Nikki, I know you've got some great thoughts around this, but like I said, I think we can all relate to not being able to say no at times.

Nikki Miller:

Absolutely. I think as our life gets bigger, we have to get better and better at saying no. And we have to get more comfortable with no being an absolute complete sentence. And I think you get to the point that if it's not a heck yes, it's just an absolute no. And ultimately, I reference often something that Gary said to me when I was early on in my career. And he said this, you're going to have to get even better at saying no because the more productive you get, the more people will look at you and say, I want that person to be a part of my world, or I want that person to speak, or I want that person to share, or I want that person to coach me and the more people and things that are going to grab at your time.

And so ironically, what made you successful in the first place is going to be the thing that gets you off track if you don't stick to your ability to say no. And then often, people don't have clarity on what their goals are and therefore don't know what to say yes to and don't know what to say no to. So that's why we always start with purpose, right? We always start with who do we want to be and where do we want to go? And then we work backwards into what we should be doing today, which should inform what we say yes to and what we say no to.

And in the book, Gary and Jay talk about, every yes has to be defended by a thousand no’s because there's just only so many things you can say yes to. And so you have to be clear on what your priorities are in order to defend the yeses that you say yes to and the no's that you say no to. And then above all, what I will always go back to is just being comfortable that no is a complete sentence.

I think all of us have been in the position before where our friend invites us to the thing, or somebody asks us if we want to buy into this business or do this investment property or do this thing that's going to take us off track, and we feel so bad that we say yes. And immediately after we say it, we have this intrinsic feeling. I think anybody listening to this has been there before, Chris. Tell me if you have, where it's like, I know I shouldn't say yes to this, but I said yes. And now I have this internal feeling of total angst because I know it's completely out of priority.

And sometimes we won't be able to name it, but internally we're saying yes because we don't want to disappoint the person, but we've just violated something within ourselves. And so what I often tell people when there's someone who's consistently saying yes to please other people, you're consistently saying no to you.

So either way, you don't get a yes without a no, and you don't get a no without a yes. When you're saying no to the things that matter least, you're saying yes to your goals, you're saying yes to yourself, and you're saying yes to your priorities. When you're saying yes to the things that matter least, you're saying no to yourself, no to your priorities and no to those bigger goals. So you don't get one without the other.

And be careful not to violate yourself and your own priorities by giving people a false yes, something you don't actually believe in so that when you say yes to people, they know it counts. And when you say no, it's a gift and it's a complete sentence. And more often than not, we believe that it's going to be a bigger deal for someone else than it actually is. If I invite a friend to dinner and they're like, no, I can't do that, then I'll say okay, no big deal. I just wanted you to know you were invited. I would love to have you there. And if you can't be, that's okay. And yet we make up this story in our heads of what this no means. And it's usually a story that we've created, not actually something that's real.

Chris Dixon:

So true. I look at -- I love this, explaining the 411 or the priorities this way. It's like, if you know what your 20 percent is, if you're clear on I know what my annual goals are personally and professionally. Based on that, I know what my goals for the month are personally and professionally that connect to those. And based on that, I know what my goals are for the week that connect to the month and the year. If you know what those things are, what we're saying is separate that from everything else and just make sure you don't say no to that.

Like if you don't say no to those things that you've identified are going to connect to your month to your year to your someday and you're on the path to just constantly driving at this North Star, you're not saying no to those things. Then it takes a lot of pressure off of you to feel like you have to manage this really complex series of decisions. Like just say yes to your 20 percent and then you can figure the rest out. And if those other things are not in conflict with the goals that you've established, then you can choose to do that or not do that. It's completely up to you, but at least you know now that you haven't sacrificed the most important things.

Nikki Miller:

For sure. And I think that a lot of times when people get into this framework and start getting comfortable saying no, they start to get really scared that all those no's are going to create complete and utter chaos, which is one of the thieves that we fear chaos, right? And I think people get to the point that they say, well, if I say no to this long list of to dos, then all the things are not going to get done.

And yet we position that if you focus on what matters most, foremost, some of these things just won't need to get done, they won't matter anymore. And also, that you'll get clarity on those things that you thought mattered, might not, or you can pass them off, or you will have more time to focus on them knowing and being comfortable with the most important thing having been done.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah, this fear of chaos, it's interesting. It's as you become more successful in achieving your goals, you're probably going to have a greater influence in some way or another, greater impact, you're going to have a bigger life and professionally, personally, both together. And as you do that, you're just going to have more connectivity to things. And it just becomes the scale and scope of it is just impossible to control all of the details all the way top to bottom.

And you just have to develop a comfort level with things being more chaotic. And that's just, chaos, it's just the word evokes a certain reaction, but it's just the reality of having that much of a sphere of impact that the further you go from the center, I.E., your goals that you control, and you have direct influence over, there's just going to be more gaps in there where things get stirred up. You just can't, you can't wrap yourself. into that because you can't control all of that and keep line of sight on the things that are right within your reach.

Nikki Miller:

For sure. And I think that where we see this the most often, Chris, is when people are in stages of entrepreneurship, especially. Would you agree? Like as somebody grows and building their business and starts to hire people, they get so concerned if, well, what if these things don't happen? And yet we always teach that if you can teach these principles, then you help the people that you hire focus on what matters most. And your focus gets more and more narrow into what drives the business. So it's not that we say chaos and that all these things aren't happening. It's that you are no longer the one managing them.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah. Someone we interviewed recently said this in a way that I think makes a lot of sense here. It's like as your influence grows, as you maybe move up or down the path and you have a greater fear, you're going to say less things and have to save them more often, and you're going to be focused on a fewer number of things at a deeper level. And so you have to be aware and intentional about that trade off. You're not going to be able to progress down the path and still control things at the surface level the way you used to. You have to let go of some of that evolve the way that you think about priority.

Nikki Miller:

For sure. And one of the other thieves that we talk about is poor health habits, because as you're in this vein, as your life gets bigger, your energy typically does have to increase. And yet for most of us, as we get older, as time goes on, our health often is the first priority to fall. And yet, ironically enough, needs to be the thing that we focus on more than anything.

And I think something, Chris, that you and I personally talk about a lot is that there's a very interesting thread amongst the very successful people that you and I have the privilege to interview. And the common thread that we always come back to is the emphasis and focus that they put on their health. Many of them are exceptional athletes in adulthood and put above average emphasis on their health, on their vitality, on their energy. And it's been an interesting thread that you and I have both noticed in some of the incredible people that we get to interview on the show, that it's a commonality amongst almost all of them, how focused they are on their health above everything. Why do you think that is?

Chris Dixon:

Well, it is very positive to see that there is -- I think we're turning a corner here as an awareness as society, and maybe it's just my algorithm has gotten me down again or whatever it is, but it sure seems like there's greater awareness on it. But to your point, like, why is there that common thread? I think we're just recognizing that you can't separate these things. Like your performance as a human being is directly tied to your health. And your body and your mind are directly connected.

And so if you're not paying close attention to the maintenance and proactive like processing of your health, then you are not going to perform at your best in any other area of your life. Everything will be impacted. So if you don't take care of that, you're just fighting an uphill battle and you're just shortening the amount of time that you can have an impact in this life.

Nikki Miller:

Yeah, for sure. And I think when I think about energy, I really think about how we create it and how we sustain it. And when I help people to sort of turn the corner, when we're coaching someone, what I will often ask them to do is just visualize yourself at your peak achievement. Like whatever that someday goal is, visualize yourself achieving it. Standing on the stage, ringing the bell at the stock exchange, opening the doors to the company, like whatever your thing is, whatever your big audacious someday goal is.

And then I often ask people like step into your body while you're in that moment. Do you feel heavy? Do you feel lethargic? And almost always they say, no, I feel light, and I feel fit, and I feel energetic. And I say, that's the importance of health. Your body and your mind are already telling you how important it is for us to protect and to maintain and increase our health over time. And we have to be responsible for creating the right habits in order to do that.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah. And if you're not intentional about creating that, everything is working against you and pushing you to be unhealthy from the things you eat, the habits you form, the behaviors you do, like all of it. So you have to really be conscious about what that means for you and what healthy looks like. And to your point, like what condition do you want to be in when you achieve your goals someday?

Nikki Miller:

Yeah. And I also -- this is one of those habits that I think we obviously talk a lot about the compound interest of creating good habits, but we also talk a lot about the compound interest of creating negative habits or bad habits. And this is, I think, probably the most costly one that I see because -- and the reference I give people here is that the cost of getting out of health momentum, the cost of falling off of our health habits is usually so much more, not only because of how we feel, but because of how we show up and also the cost of getting back on track.

Business, you can often move fairly swiftly, unless you've got a really long period of time doing the wrong things. But I don't know about you, Chris. If I go a week of eating bad and not working out, which is a consistent habit that I have, it just takes a lot of energy for me to get back on track. And I can see so easily, even for me personally, as someone who has been lifelong dedicated to my health, I can see how easy it would be for someone to get off track for a week or two and to stay off track for a long time.

Chris Dixon:

That momentum shifts quick, and it can be hard to get that train moving again. But the good news is you can, and you just have to, that's when it's so healthy to kind of zoom in and just be like, okay, like what's the week, just the day, like what's success. And you got to watch out for zooming out too much and then trying to see like how much momentum you're going to have to recreate. At least that's how it is for me. And knowing like if you do it enough that you know you can get back to it and it's okay. But you're right, if you don't stay on top of it, then it will creep pretty quick.

And you mentioned like diet. And I just want to share a personal experience recently. I used to always say that like, I eat like a B plus diet relative to like the standard American diet, the sad diet, they call it. I feel like I eat a B plus and I'm like, I was intentional about not trying to eat an A diet because it's just, there's a lot of sacrifice and it's a big jump in like convenience and like different things.

And in December and now into January, I've made the conscious effort to actually try and eat what I would define as an A to an A plus diet. And it was a little bit of a hill to climb, but now it's established as a more or less a habit. And I am just absolutely blown away at the difference that made. And I hope there's something that listeners can take away from my experience that just these small incremental gains in your diet can have exponential incremental gains on your overall energy, happiness, wellbeing, and something that, yeah, I just wanted to share.

Nikki Miller:

Thank you for sharing that because I think that what you also just said right before that, which is that if you zoom out too much, right, so if you get off track and zoom out too much, it can feel like a huge mountain to climb. And it's where we encourage people to make these habits really small. Let's say you're somebody who has gotten off track in your health, don't start a new diet and a new workout regimen and, and do all of these things all at the same time. Just start with something small and achievable where you can win the day and build some positive momentum.

If you can keep yourself in a place habitually where you never lose the momentum, it's even better. And yet, we all hit roadblocks. We all lose momentum in the categories of our life at some period. So when you're in that position, just start small so that you can do it consistently. And I think that health above all is -- health and productivity are most affected by the fourth thief, which is an environment that doesn't support our goals. Right?

The example I give here is if you're on a health journey and you put a bunch of garbage in your house, it's just going to be really challenging for you to stay away from that. You're just creating an extra roadblock for yourself in order to stay on track with that habit. If you work in a bullpen and everyone's allowed to interrupt it at any given time, it's really challenging to stay on track for your most important activity. So this is really about creating an environment around yourself that allows you to stay on track.

Chris Dixon:

So true. I mean, think about environment kind of in two bigger buckets, if you will, which are your kind of physical and non-physical environments. And it's kind of just like boiled down to people in place. And when you think of environment, consider those things. And try to detach yourself for a moment from yourself and try to look at your goal from the outside and from a neutral perspective and think about similar to what you could do with habits.

But think about what kind of environment would you need to be in or what a person need to be in to be successful in this area? And what does that look like? Try to imagine what a successful environment would be and then compare that to the environment that you're in now. And think about what is the gap there and the kind of place that you're in, the people that you surround yourself by. We talk about this so much. Like you are influenced and a product of the people you surround yourself by. There's no question about that.

And it's the experiences that you're having every day. And so how can you shift the experiences you're having so that they are in support of the growth that you intend to make to achieve your goals and the people that you surround yourself by. And so environment, it's so crucial because I think it has connectivity to everything else that you aim to do.

Nikki Miller:

For sure. And I think that when I think about environment, this really brings me back to setting yourself up for not only through the people, but also to your point through the physical environment and also setting yourself up to do these challenging things in a way that creates less friction. So for example, you mentioned earlier, we're in the midst of the 66-day challenge, and we've got a really cool 66-day challenge calendar that you can download on the website where you can mark these boxes.

Well, if you like stuff this in the bottom of your purse or in the bottom of your backpack or briefcase, whatever you take to the office, and you keep it out of sight, it's going to be out of sight, out of mind. And we encourage people, I know for me, I'm doing the 66 Day Challenge alongside everyone, and mine is right next to my bed. It's literally the first thing that I wake up and see in the morning. And so this is also creating less friction inside your environment to stick to the habit or stick to the process that you want to be building inside your life.

Chris Dixon:

So true. That's so true. So those four thieves, the inability to say no, fear of chaos, poor health habits in your environment does not support your goals. Maybe from top to bottom, we could just go back through. What we're saying is start with clarity on your goals. Make sure you do that work. Go check out our other episode if you're interested or go through our virtual goal setting retreat course, if you'd like to learn how to set goals in the system with more detail but get your goals clear.

The difference maker between just having goals and actually living them and actually living The ONE Thing, putting The ONE Thing into action in your life starts with, we believe this rhythm of accountability. It's this framework that you put in place that enables you to have really powerful reflection and planning to make the small changes over time that net a very positive overall gain towards the path to achieving your goals. Right?

So rhythm of accountability, powerful reflection and planning, use habits like a tool to build behavior and stack it over time and watch out for those four thieves we talked about because they can just jump in and steal all of your progress if you're not capable or aware of them.

Nikki Miller:

The way I would summate this, Chris, for those that have read the book, you'll recognize the way I put it into words is that success requires your participation and so does failure. And the only way to know which one you’re creating action toward is to measure it, right. And in the book, Gary and Jay say there's an undeniable connection between what you do and what you get. Actions determine outcomes and outcomes inform actions.

In other words, what we're talking about is identifying the action and then assessing based off the result that that action produces if that's taking you closer to where you want to be or further away. And you don't have to make it much more complicated than that. And then you have to build accountability around yourself. And there's a couple different ways that you can get accountability.

And in the book, there's a statistic they gave from a study that they did in the research, which is the individuals who write down their goals are 39.5 percent more likely to succeed. But the second part of that study, and a lot of people have heard that one before, but I think that even more important statistic is those that had to turn in their goals, those that wrote them down and then had to turn them into someone were 76.7 percent more likely to achieve them.

So the best thing you can do for yourself is have a rhythm of accountability. And yet, the thing that will make you most likely to succeed is to have an accountability partner, a mentor, a peer, a coach, somebody who you have to turn this into that is a second check or a second set of eyes on the progress that you're making towards where you want to go.

So in our organization, we recommend having a coach. That's going to be the highest form of accountability that you can have. We know statistically speaking that even the greatest athletes, greatest businesspeople still have a coach because that's going to be the thing that holds them accountable to getting to where they want to go. And yet, whether you get a coach, whether you have an accountability partner, a mentor or peer, so long as it's not a friend who's going to let you off the hook, we know that if you turn these goals in, if you report back to someone, you're even more likely. So if you really want to take your accountability up a notch, the best thing you can do is do it at all. The very best thing you could do is do it with an accountability partner.

Chris Dixon:

So true. That's been my experience. And I'd say that it's important, like this system is intended to be simple, right? It's the surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results. And it really is extraordinary and simple, but it doesn't mean it's always easy. And if you were looking for a way to get the support you need to implement the system, having a coach that's trained in this that you can hire to do that for you is really the highest form of accountability that I'm aware of.

And you got to think too, it's not when you've got a ton of momentum and you're really excited about the new year and you've got all this stuff going great, and you're just knocking down all your dominoes and it's one month in. And it's really, it's three months from now. And complicated things have come up that maybe you don't have the tools, the ability to see from outside the box and read the situation. Or it's the day where it's like, you know what, I said no to my reflection and planning this week because I just didn't move my time block around.

And it's the little things that not having someone to help keep you accountable will do that show up over time that you just get this one degree off course, one degree more off course, one degree more off course. And then before you know it, you're in a position where your goal doesn't feel achievable, and you give up or you shift focus, or you just end up discouraged.

And so the benefit again of considering having a coach and hiring someone to come into your world is if they have the knowledge and expertise to be a subject matter expert for you in the application of this system, and you get to have that accountability where it's like, well, I can't really say no to this time block for my reflection and planning, because if I don't, I'm going to have to show up and own that with my coach. So those things I think are important to remember too, that yes, can you do this on your own? A hundred percent. But you're going to run into some challenges and if you want that next level, then consider us.

Nikki Miller:

For sure. I'm going to ask you your one thing, Chris, but if it's all right, I'm going to give mine.

Chris Dixon:


Nikki Miller:

And if, for our listeners, the one thing I would want you to take away from this is this is a gift to you. And often I think accountability can feel like a dirty word. Like it doesn't feel good. It sounds really hard. And what I try to remind people when we're talking about living the rhythm of accountability is that we wanted to do this not only so you have less change to make and so that you can ensure that that big vision that you have for your life actually comes to life becomes the inevitable future based off how you're working backwards into today.

But I would also offer this. This also gives you an opportunity to celebrate yourself, which I don't think that we do enough, especially as high achievers. And if you don't know how to celebrate the small wins, then you're never going to know how to celebrate the big wins either. And so part of the beauty of living the cycle of accountability is having the ability to make small changes over time, which feel better than the huge changes, but it's also the ability to celebrate myself along the way.

Hey, I had a million choices I could have made today about how to spend my time, but I chose to do that challenging thing or that thing that took me one step closer to my goal. And I'm going to celebrate myself for that. If I could offer anything to our high achievers listening to this, I would offer that. Don't forget to celebrate yourself for doing the right thing on the way too.

Chris Dixon:

If I could have you guys take away one thing, it would be very similar to Nikki's, maybe slightly more of a tactical, if I will, and that's find 30 minutes. Find 30 minutes every week. That's it. That's all I'm asking. Time block it, own it, make it your most important time block of the week, and just do some reflection and planning against your goals. And spend 15 minutes, maybe 10, a third to 40 percent of that 30 minutes just looking back on the prior week.

I do mine on Fridays but do it whenever you want. Just look back on the prior week and say, where did I win? What's the one thing I did that worked that I want to keep doing? And conversely, what's one thing I should do differently to get back on track, to stay ahead? Where can I improve? Based on what you find in your reflection, build your plan for the upcoming week. What's the one thing I need to do to be on track to accomplish my goal for the month? Do that for 30 minutes every week. Change your life.

Nikki Miller:

Mic drop. Well said. All right. Thank you for doing this with me, Chris. I think this is going to be so helpful to our listeners. It's one thing to set the goals. It's a whole another thing to achieve them as we often say. If you all love this, send us an email at podcast@the1thing. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram at @theonethingbook or on YouTube at the same place. If you have questions that they're subjects you want us to cover, feel free to send us messages. We love hearing your perspective. If you want to learn more about coaching, go to the1thing.com, the, number 1thing.com. Anything else to say, Chris?

Chris Dixon:

No. Thanks, Nikki. This is great.

Nikki Miller:

All right. We'll see everybody next time.

Chris Dixon:

Bye everybody.


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